Saint-Polycarpe: the Grès Vaillant, the love of wine and horses

The series “A farmer, a village” paints pictures of breeders, winegrowers, market gardeners, arboriculturists … Women, men, families attached to their land, their farm, their production and their village.

Aigline de Causens is a professor of psychology at the University of Paris-Créteil. Passionate about horseback riding since his childhood, he has also developed a strong taste for delicious wine. Laurent Maffeïs is a lawyer in Drôme. Grandson of the director of the cooperative cellar in Die, he knew very well how to make wine at a very young age and it was only natural that he began a career change by training in viticulture at the Beaune school of agriculture and oenology. . The two will meet at a wine fair in Paris and train together, in the different terroirs of the vineyards of Bordeaux, Alsace and Drôme, before leaving in search of a land to start making their own wines.

Their choice than 2017 in a domain in a piece of 70 ha in the whole of Saint-Polycarpe, whose vineyards were created by Benedictine monks in the 13th century century. “ The terroir of Limoux intrigued us because of both the mountains and the Mediterranean influence. We really like the Chardonnay and the Pinot Noir, which are very Burgundy, so Limouxin was perfect and we were surprised when we discovered Mauzac. ! “. They baptized the domain Le Grès Vaillant, to mention the basement rock and the courage of the horses. Aigline actually combined his love for equine and viticulture by using their traction force for plowing, l maintenance of rows and pastures.or the carrying of grapes.

Rustica, a Comtoise horse, Carolus, a Breton draft horse, and Colette, the child of the first, were thus associated with the work of the land. Right now, Rustica is Aigline’s most willing to lead, and the plow’s path among the vines is smooth. Laurent emphasizes and emphasizes the advantages of this ancestral approach : “ The soil is just plowed on top and not packed like a tractor, which means that the soil and its micro-organisms are not disturbed, and then water and fertilizer materials cannot penetrate … “. Without engine noise or exhaust fumes, the ground work is done here in a collaboration and a loving relationship with the horses.

In addition to Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs and Mauzacs, the 7 The ha of the vineyard also consists of Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The first two harvests were vinified by a cooperative, but Aigline and Laurent are now completely independent for their products since repair and equipment in the old ground cellar with stainless steel vats. .

In just 5 years of operation, Le Grès Vaillant has taken a good place in the local organic wines scene, with an average production of 30 000 bottles and several medal-winning cuvées in national and international competition. A good half are sold directly on the ground, at fairs and shows, and find their clients at restaurateurs in Toulouse, Montpellier and Paris.

In the summer, the couple hosts farm aperitifs with fellow bakers, cheese makers or local delicacies. In addition, the land has a 4-bedroom gîte and can accommodate up to 10 people. A successful conversion so for Aigline and Laurent, filled with love for their land, their animals, their wines and now their little boy Alaric, aged 5 months.

All information on the website

The advantages of animal traction

Almost disappeared in the second half of the 20th century century, horse -drawn traction was once again used by some operators. If this seems like a step back in time, specific harnesses and tools are modernized and improved, starting with animal comfort. The ecological benefits are obvious: the horse uses no fossil fuel, has no greenhouse gases, does not generate noise pollution and, moreover, can make compost. Animal traction has agronomic advantages: the accuracy of the work and less compaction of the soil allows a significant increase in yield. If the traction of a horse takes more time than a tractor and involves daily maintenance, the investment is much lower as is the cost of operation, if only through a supply that is fully secured to the environment. pastures. So it is suitable for small farms of 5 or 6 ha in organic viticulture. At 122 500 listed farms under 6 ha on land, France may soon see animal traction return to force in its countryside ! Information on the website

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